Start-up and update
Now it's time for the autumn start-up for many of us. A nice summer and time off has come to an end with many good moments and new memories. For us it will also be a kind of fresh start with a new semester even if we have not had a traditional summer holiday and time off from school.
View of Caraguatatuba. We had the privilege of borrowing an apartment and brought with us school and Portuguese studies and spent a week by the sea.
What's the current situation like in Brazil?
The country still has many new cases of Corona (about 45,000 – 50,000 new cases and about 1,000 deaths per day), but an increasing number of cities are starting to drop restrictions and allow more activities, open shops and restaurants, beaches and parks. We are still in quarantine (since just over five months back) with instructions to stay at home if you absolutely do not have to leave home for some reason. Not using face mask is fined (in our city) with approx 20USD (or that the equivalent amount is used to make a grocery purchase to families in distress).
Our congregation has not yet started to have services with visitors and once they start they will not allow neither children nor persons over 60 years of age to join. We talked to our pastor last week and he has many ideas on how the congregation can meet anyway. For families with children, there will be a drive-in service where you remain in the cars in the parish parking lot and a church service is held from a stage. We look forward to meeting again, although of course it will still be very different.
There are also many fine examples of how the churches in Brazil organise themselves to help now during the Corona crisis. The 30 social projects linked to our partner, FEPAS, have also had to adapt because of the pandemic. Most have had to close because of Corona, but have instead found other ways to help the families they previously received at the different centres. An example of this is two of the social projects that are home to the elderly, where staff have moved in during the pandemic and are still living there, to avoid meeting others and risk becoming infected. Many projects have distributed food parcels and a total of 20 tons of food have been distributed.
Queue at a food distribution in one of CIBI's churches in São Paulo.
How are we doing?
These five months in quarantine have really been a journey for us. There have been days when we wanted to go home, wondering why we came right now and what we are doing here. Other days we feel hope and a gratitude to actually be here right now. Through it all, we feel that God is with us and cares about us. One night when I felt very down and dejected, I felt how God told me not to give up. The next morning I received a whatsapp message from a mother in one of the children's classes that I had not had contact with before, with a word about not giving up and the Scripture “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. On another occasion when we felt discouraged, we went out into the area for a walk, whereupon one of our neighbors came up to us and said that we have an important job to do when Brazil opens up again. In the midst of it all, we feel that God wants us to be here and He wants us to know it when we feel most discouraged.
Of course, we are not only discouraged, but also grateful and hopeful. God has led us in many clear ways to do this and He knew it would be like this. We trust that He will lead us forward, even when the path is not straight and clear for us. There's a lot we're grateful for in the middle of it all. We get a lot of time together as a family. We home school our children, and have found a routine that (usually) works well. The kids get a lot of time together and they are probably each other's best friends right now. There is not much sibling fight even if it also occurs, but it is nice to see our 12-year-old playing so well even with our 7-year-old. Our state (São Paulo) has previously said that schools will be allowed to reopen on 8 September. Now that date has been postponed to October 8, so we continue to home school and try to work at the same time.
Gymnastics class and lesson in emotional intelligence.
What are we going to do now?
During the spring we started working with our sister church, CIBI (Convenção das Igrejas Batistas Independentes) and their social department; FEPAS. To some extent at a distance, but also at the CIBI administrative center located here in Campinas. What we have spent the most time on is to help with an application to SMR (Swedish Mission Council) for a project that will fight corruption for three years. For us it has been very interesting to gain insight into corruption in Brazil, how it has historically characterized the country for hundreds of years and to begin to understand why corruption is so widespread here. If the application is granted, a large part of our focus in the coming time will be to work on that project. Staffan will also work on building a new website for FEPAS and provide support and advice in the preparation of their continued fundraising and communication work.
We look forward to getting started and rejoice at the opportunity to be involved in this exciting work.